For nine years, North Brooklyn residents have counted on State Senator Martin Dilan (D-Williamsburg) to deliver services for his constituents.
Now Dilan is urging residents themselves to get counted in next year’s Census in order to ensure that government resources are not diverted elsewhere.
“This district was underserved 10 years ago. We won’t let it happen again,” said Dilan.
Senator Dilan, joined by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg) addressed a crowd of 50 at PS 250 (108 Montrose Avenue, Williamsburg) in a town hall forum about the state’s recent fiscal crisis and the importance of participating in the 2010 Census.
“New York State is not going to run out of money or go bankrupt. We don’t have the tax revenue we once had,” said DiNapoli, addressing the governor’s announcement that funding will be temporarily pulled from municipalities. “We’re not just concerned about the fiscal health of our state, we’re concerned about the fiscal health of your family.”
Census trackers urged residents to reach out to their neighbors to make sure they fill out their census forms, which will be mailed to an individual’s home address in March 2010. The formerly convoluted form has been whittled down to ten easy questions, such as one’s name, age, number of residents residing in the home, and ethnicity.
“Not one question asks if you are illegal, if you have a green card or a visa. There are no questions about immigration status,” said Gurpal Singh, an advisor to State Senator Malcolm Smith (D-Ridgewood).
Census representatives are encouraging individuals to mail back completed forms between March 19 and April 19, at which point Census trackers will begin to visit people door to door.
“You don’t want them coming to your door,” said Singh. “They’re going to want to come in and ask for dinner.”
According to Singh, residents in Dilan’s sprawling 17th District did not fill out their 2000 census forms at a particularly high rate. On some blocks, the completion rate hovered below 50 percent and was as low as 25 percent, which meant that the district was severely undercounted and may not be receiving federal and state resources in accordance to existing population levels. On average, those losses in potential funding could be as high as $30,000 per person, over the 10 year period between census counts.
For Dilan and other elected representatives, there are other incentives at work beyond a reduction in resources. The distribution and allocation of legislative seats statewide and in Congress will be based on the 2010 Census count, which means that Brooklyn could gain a state Senate seat or lose a Congressional seat.
“New York has 29 Congressional seats right now. If we don’t do a good job, we will lose two Congressional seats,” said Dilan.
For more information about the 2010 Census, visit www.2010.census.gov.